Letter to America: Poem by Nathanael Tagg

Letter to America by Nathanael Tagg

One Poem

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Your Witness Trees

Our phantom threads are bullets.
There we were
at your every Gettysburg.
Liken yours to your country’s bloodiest.

You hardly fault Plath
for calling herself Lazarus
and a victim of the Holocaust.
Lo and behold: what’s left of your North,
your South, your slavery. Climb us

for a better look. My,
you’re out of touch. It cannot
be ancient history if, still, so many
of us stand and your musket-

fire is a nine-step procedure.
You say no continuity between
tourists and soldiers, you and them.
Or is it you now and you then?

Wise up. You needn’t have
lost a leg to a cannonball.
Just listen to your witness trees.
Never mind that few of us are literal
trees—none as predictable as “witnesses

for Christ.” Listen: a paroxysm
of wind attacks
our leaves and branches
to say, “History, first of all, isn’t history.”




Nathanael TaggNathanael Tagg is the author of Animal Virtue (WordTech Editions 2018) and an associate professor of English at Cecil College. His writing appears in Colorado Review, Barrow StreetCimarron Review, and elsewhere. Learn more at www.nathanaeltagg.com.

Header photo by Carlos Amarillo, courtesy Shutterstock. Photo of Nathanael Tagg by Richard Waine.

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